skip to primary navigationskip to content

Clavering 2012

Clavering 2012 Pottery Report

Clavering 2012 Test Pit Location Map

Clavering 2012 Report on the Archaeological Test Pit Excavations

 Click here to read about the impact of the project.




29 test pits were excavated over a single day in Clavering in 2012, funded by The Arts Council England as part of On Landguard Point . The majority of the pits were excavated in residential gardens, but pits were also dug in fields and on school playing fields. Excavations were undertaken by residents of Clavering with their friends and families, members of the Clavering Landscape History Group and other members of the public, with Access Cambridge Archaeology providing on-site instruction and supervision. 

The test pit excavations showed that the landscape around Clavering appears to have been extensively but lightly used by humans in the prehistoric period, with activity perhaps focussing more on the valley in the Roman period.  No evidence at all was found dating to the Anglo-Saxon period, even from around the area close to the site of the supposed Anglo-Saxon castle mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for.

By way of contrast, the high medieval period (11th – 14th century) appears to bring saw an explosion of settlement across the landscape of Clavering. Pottery from the test pits indicates appears that this was the time when the settlement pattern as it is today was established. A small nucleated village is indicated around the core formed by the church and manor, surrounded by numerous even smaller dispersed settlements scattered along lanes throughout the parish. Many of these are named as ‘greens’ or ‘ends’ while others are likely to have comprised little more than single homesteads. A significant number of these sites are complimented by moats.  This energetic expansion of settlement in the 11th – 14th centuries saw the volume of pottery recovered from across the parish of Clavering climb from zero in the Anglo-Saxon period to above average for the eastern region in the high medieval period.

This process of high medieval settlement expansion was abruptly arrested in the later medieval period, which saw the dispersed settlement pattern particularly severely scaled back, with most sites outside the village producing no pottery of later medieval date (mid 14th–mid 16th century) at all. The nucleated settlement around the church seems however to have fared much better with little sign of contraction. Recovery in the wider dispersed settlement landscape was not established until after the end of the medieval period. However, when this did occur, the dispersed character of the settlement pattern which the test pit excavations showed to have existed in the high medieval period persisted: all but one of the test pits produced pottery of 16th-18th century date. The settlement pattern remains largely dispersed today, despite 20th century development around the valley-bottom settlement village and string development along roads out of it which have  creating a large village at the centre of the parish.

Twenty-nine test pits were excavated in Clavering over just one day in 2012, a remarkable achievement by mostly local residents who were participating as part of a programme of community excavations supervised by ACA. These were part of the ‘On Landguard Point’ project, funded by the Arts Council as part of the ‘Artists Taking the Lead’ element of the Cultural Olympiad accompanying the London 2012 Olympic Games.